Hither and yon: Music from Corner to tea room

Sometimes when I'm out an about, the question arises why my column is called "On the Prowl" when I actually seem to review CDs a good bit of the time.

Truth is, I see live music nine times in 10 weeks (sometimes two or three bands a week). I'm actually 50/50 hit-the-streets v. hit-the-CD stacks– batting a little under .700 in the hitting-the-streets lifetime prowl ratio.

This week I took to the streets hoping to find something to review. Let me tell ya, it was hard. The town was packed for the UVA football game. I would have had a better chance finding parking in the French Quarter.

But I fearlessly hit the Corner to see what I could find. A band called dhammapada was on stage at Jaberwocky, and their few fans were obviously close friends. It was easy to tell why.

The lead guy bounced with more emotion than the music actually warranted. I got the feeling the three-piece ensemble didn't gig out much. They were a little too excited to be on stage. I guess that's a good thing– excitement, I mean– but the music itself lacked any sort of depth or energy. They played a pop mixture I've dubbed alterna-rock-n-reggae– the stuff most college-y type bands play when they haven't developed their own sound. The drummer seemed to not want to be heard. He played scared all evening. To their credit, they have a good foundation and love for what they do. With time, they may turn into something special.

The next night I settled in at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar for a change of pace. I put Twisted Branch in my top five places in town to go when I want to avoid the typical college crowd.

Saturday the music was on heavy. I arrived in time to get a seat in the pillow room just before Awesome Color took the front of the room. About midway through their third song, I had to get up and put a visual to the vicious and raw noise I was hearing, and I loved it.

What I saw was a trio of postmodern indie rockers with the gift of adding awesome color to the room. I liked how the guitarist/vocalist followed his vocal lines simultaneously with a matching guitar line a la Delta blues or Hendrix-inspired rock. The bassist was rock solid and filled the mix enough to allow for the guitarist to wander and come back without dead space. These guys are a hard act to follow.

Nevertheless, I followed them out the door.

Later that evening, I wandered down to Better Than Television and walked into a most bohemian space where a DJ was spinning, and emcees took turns free-styling, just a good ol' beats-and-rhymes work out. The event definitely fit the venue name. But I was pooped and it was late... and I gotta save something for next week.